Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scanlation Get: Shin Devilman

So, this week is another Go Nagai title, Shin Devilman! (It was what I was “feeling” the most this week). So Shin Devilman is like Doctor Who if the Doctor and his companion where both male, and kind of gay. Say, if Captain Jack and Ten went on adventures without any female companions (I know there are fan girls shipping that!). Also if everything that went wrong in history was because of demons instead of aliens.

This is a odd-ball volume from all angles. First of all this came out after the original Devilman was done, so you would think it to be a sequel. But no, it is a story that gets retconned (long before there was even a term for it) into the original series. Oddly, though this volume would not only ruin the pacing in the original but also the ending. This title really kind of awkward and where I thought the original Devilman series was kind of a pulp masterpiece this is just kind of crap. Really amusing crap, but crap none the less.

Akria and Ryo manage to some how to travel back in time (really it's not explained) it just happens. Each chapter focuses on someone famous from a different time period. In one it's a young Hitler; another it's Joan of Arc on trial by demons; and in yet another it's George Armstrong Custer just being a bastard. There is a chapter devoted to Versailles and Marie Antoinette which seems like it must have been done only because Rose of Versailles was popular at the time. This title is almost like those PSA's at the end of G.I. Joe. We showed you something violent so here is something educational to make up for it!

As I mentioned this volume is pretty...uh gay. I love my yaoi but Devilman is not where I am expecting any “extra special” boy bonding. It never goes “there” but there are a few scenes which have the boys in oddly suggestive positions. If this were done today I would say it was done for utter fan girl fodder. This is from the 70's though, so I am left really scratching my head. I know part of this volume is to have a chance to expand the boys friendship and have them bond more. (In the original series you don't know all the much about their friendship before story starts.) Expanding their friendship would ideally give the ending more impact, but really it just makes this volume oddly uncomfortable.

The art is on par with the original Devilman so if you hated that, you are going to hate this also. Everyone is still drawn very awkwardly in typical Go Nagai fashion (which I kind of love). I think it has a lot of great and well design page layouts with panels that are very dynamic and more avant-garde then you see in titles today.

This is such a peculiar title, it's like a good bad movie. You know what you are watching is bad but you can't help but be entertained by it. As with anything Go Nagai it isn't for everyone but if you like his stuff it is worth checking out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Scanlation Get: Koi Kaze

Koi Kaze by Motoi Yoshida is this week's title. If you haven't heard about this title before, it's about incest. If you already feel uncomfortable stop reading now. Before I read the manga my strongest memory of Koi Kaze was at a Otakon where Geneon (which I think was still Pioneer at the time, damn that was like forever ago...) they announced they were releasing this title in the U.S.. They also showed a promo trailer for it. I remember sitting next to my friend going “What the fuck are they thinking?” My friend was just as baffled. From all accounts the anime version of this bombed pretty hard in the U.S.. I've never really understood the Japanese fascination with banging your sister (or in some cases and perhaps more creepy your daughter). Some things I can make some sense from other culture references, but this is something I can't make heads or tails of. Especially at the pervasive level the topic has in anime.

All that being said, I have to say this title is really good. It manages to take a topic that is pretty squeamish for most and make it an entertaining and delightful read. Perhaps it is the fact the story starts out with a brother and sister who haven't seen each other in over ten years and don't realize that they are related when they first meet. Also it might help that the characters actually both feel a bit bothered by the whole thing themselves. The story is written in a very slice of life style and focuses in on the characters emotions and personal relationships. The feelings pour out of the page as if you could feel them yourself.

The art is a delightful change of pace with a light breezy style with a lot of sketchy lines. It really helps make the story feel more warm and relaxed. Everyone is drawn more “realistically” in the sense that while no one is ugly they are also not smoking hot. It has a very cute style to it but doesn't fit the moĆ© by todays standards.

Koi Kaze is defiantly not for everyone, incest is a squeamish and taboo subject. What makes this title special is the fact that it handles it so well. It is told in a very mature manner and never gets in the realm of tasteless as is often the case in stories involving this subject matter. What make this title so remarkable are the very strong character interactions. Everyone is relatable in some matter and the emotions while high are still on a very natural level. For those who are up for it, this is a surprisingly captivating read.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Scanlation Get: Hotel & Present

This week I am going to do a little double-feature of one-shots by Boichi.

The first being a title called Hotel. This is a very interesting piece as it almost exclusively inner monologue. The inner monologue is something almost entirely absent from manga genre. Which is interesting as manga is modeled after cinema and while the inner monologue isn't as popular as it used to be, it's still around. Perhaps it was felt that the inner monologue took the reader out of the action to much, as spoken about in the title A Drifting Life?

In this case the inner monologue is an intergeneration part of this sci-fi story as we learn humanity has caused world ended global warming. While some struggle to build an ark to send human DNA out into space, others are working on building a tower to house the DNA of all the species of life on Earth. A hotel of sorts, where the manager is a computer AI. With it's inner monologue we learn what befalls humanity.

The second title is a story titled Present. What happens when a student who has fallen in love with her teacher a present for Christmas? What happens when she falls incredibly ill? What will the final gift to all involved be? This is pretty simple story with a sci-fi good twist that is just told very well. It also has a very small connection to Hotel.

Both of these titles have wonderful art. Lots of little details are really what make it great. The humans are drawn well, and have good line work but they don't come off anything astounding. It's the detail in the sci-fi elements that make the titles feel so rich. All the mechanical designs are very details and feel very realistic. The color pages in both are also great, with some very fluid feeling CG to them.

Both of the titles this week are only 40 pages each, making them quick fun reads. They make good toe wetting titles to some more serious sci-fi stories. If you are into the one-shot format, these are must reads. They are shinning examples of what can be done in this form to draw you in emotionally.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Scanlation Get: Devilman

Somehow up until this point I haven't written anything about Go Nagai. I must rectify this issue. If you don't know who Go Nagai he is a mangaka known for Getter Robo, Cutie Honey, Mazinger Z, and a ton of other titles including today's Deviman. He is also responsible for a lot of violence and boobies in anime an manga.

Devilman is considered one of his really enduring classic titles. There have been several anime adaptations, a (terrible) live-action movie, even his own re-imagining in Devilman Lady (which somehow went on way longer then the original Devilman manga did). Devilman is a pretty simple story that is wonderfully creepy and cracktastic at the same time. It's also full of important moral lessons and WTF?! plot twists.

Our hero is Akria a normal dude who is kind of a pussy so much so that when he and his pseudo-girlfriend Miki are corner by bullies all he tries to do is walk away. Miki ends up getting in a fight with them! Only they get a hold of her with the intent to rape her! Akria poorly tries to talk his way out of it but it isn't until his friend Ryo shows up with a shotgun do the bullies leave.

Then Ryo briskly rushes off with Akria to his home telling him his life maybe in danger and that his father has been taken over by demons. Ryo then tells him about an ancient and frighting race of demons that have come back from pre-history to destroy humanity. Only one thing can stop it, Devilman! A man and a demon combined but still retaining the human heart. Ryo chooses Akria for this, but of course Akria refuses being a chicken. It is only after they are attacked by demons that Akria goes for it and apparently the only way to do this is to have an orgy?! Sure, why not. During which most of the participants get killed and Akria joins with a demon to become Devilman (and much less of a pussy, for realz).

From here the story takes a lot of interesting twist and turns as demons start to outright attack humanity and we fine there are others who ended up like Akria as Devilmen. It also has a twist ended that could give CLAMP and M. Knight Shyamalan explosive diarrhea. Honestly I can't decide if the twist ending is genius or terribly stupid. I do remember it getting an audible reaction out of me though, which I give any manga points for.

Now, I really love the art in this title. I did from the first moment I saw it. For most though the super seventies, and really wonky human forms are going to be a turn off. Someone once described Go Nagai's art like fan art, which I can see. It has a very rough sketchy line look, plus all the humans have really odd proportions that just don't seem right. For those who give it a chance though, it can really grow on you, and has a lot of charm.

What I do think is great about the art in Devilman (even over a lot of other Go Nagai titles) is the panel work. It's fucking fabulous and moody. When everyday things are going on the panels are very normal. When stranger and weirder things go on the panels getting stranger and weirder. Lots of black negative space is used, extreme close ups of eyes (ha, take that Lost!), and really cinematic spreads. In terms of layout and panel design this is one of my favorite titles. I think it does a really interesting job.

Overall Devilman is a really interesting title for several reasons, as a very influence title that is still popular in Japan today, as one of great works of Go Nagai, as a title that deals with moral dilemmas as an integral part of the plot, and it is a damn fun title to read. My advice, give it a try, it's a fun ride.